This week, we have the honor of having the wildly talented yoga teacher, writer and holistic health nut Lani of Yogalana, as a guest on the blog. She is sharing her wisdom on the importance of self-care, at any size.

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It’s time to forget the notion that Yoga is reserved for the freakishly flexible or spiritual elite. It can provide a gentle gateway to simply starting to move your body. This movement not only promotes health but can trigger a spiral of positive self-love behavior.

When I first began my yoga journey, I was obsessed with hot yoga, but after moving into my Teacher Training Program, I soon realized that all that sweating was taking a toll on my body. As a trained ballet dancer, I had a knee injury that was aggravated by a bike accident, but instead of working with the injury to holistically heal it, I was working against it, ignoring the pain, continuously hyperextending my knees and pushing too hard in the hot yoga class. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all this was worsening the injury.

Once I switch over to a calming Hatha practice, I found it difficult to hold the poses for long periods of time. I also found it challenging using my breath, practicing pranayama exercises, and clearing my mind.

Eventually, however, it became easier for me to slow down and relax. I also noticed healing results both mentally and physically. Not only that, but I began to cultivate a certain self-love. I was on my way to some emotional healing, while toning muscles, relaxing my mind and treating my injury.

My obsession with hot yoga quickly evolved into a passion for Hatha yoga. I happily left hot yoga behind, glad to be done with sweaty, stinky classrooms, large mirrors, and half-dressed classmates. I was also glad to not have teachers barking orders at me. As well, it was refreshing to switch my focus from physical body – not the best for creating a positive self-image and increasing self-esteem – to a more balanced approach of mind-body.

Eventually, after graduating from my teacher training, my practiced evolved once again when I began a bi-weekly, two-hour, before-dawn Ashtanga practice. I craved the aspect of heart-pumping, super challenging yoga that hot yoga used to give me and Ashtanga provided me with that. I quickly devoted my practice to the style, but with the new perspective of listening to my body, moving at my own pace, and using my breath. This allowed me to go deeper into yoga than ever before which continued the nurturing of a positive self-image.

After my constant and consistent yogic evolution, I would say my practice is a mixture of many different styles. Once in a while, I’ll even go sweat it out in a hot yoga class! Similarly, I teach a class by taking aspects from Hatha, Yin, Power, and Ashtenga, and attuned to how my students feel, what their energy levels are like, and what their physical needs are. I believe this makes a well-rounded practice. As well, it allows room for expression of how the students feel at that moment.

Instead of constantly pushing, and struggling through a challenging class, every time, it’s nice to just stop, and listen to yourself and acknowledge your needs for that day. I’m not saying that every yoga class should be easy, but I think that an ever-changing yoga practice highlights the fact that yoga is fluid and will constantly change for everybody at any given time. Allowing room for an evolving practice is important for feeling a sense of success and growth which ultimately leads to a better sense of worth.

lineWhy Yoga?

Immediate effects

  • Releases tension & reduces stress
  • Improves overall mood and feelings of well-being
  • Increased circulation & mobility

Long-term effects

  • Combats mental disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
  • Increases focus & flexibility

Try it out!

If you are new to yoga or are interested in trying it, I would like to encourage you to:

  • Start with 3 foundations poses listed below.
  • From there, check out online videos (see boxes below) and in-person classes to find teachers, styles, studios, and classes that really resonate with you and your needs.
  • Once you are comfortable with a certain style or teacher, push yourself to go deeper into your practice by exploring other options.
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut! Step out of your comfort zone, and explore classes that are challenging for you while keeping mindful of your mind-body requirements for that day.

This will move toward building a solid, comprehensive and regular practice which ultimately leads to genuine self-love!

The three foundation poses

These three poses are the foundation of your yoga practice. They can be practiced anywhere at any time and are extremely helpful with centering, relaxing, focusing, energizing, and grounding.

Balasana (Child’s pose):

  • Start on all fours, with your joints stacked (elbows and shoulders above the wrists, and hips above the knees and in line with ankles.) Untuck your toes and bring the insides of your big toes together.
  • Release a full exhale and release the hips down towards the ankle. Stretch your arms forward and rest your forehead to the earth. If it doesn’t get there, stack your palms or place a pillow or blanket underneath for support.
  • Your knees can be close together to for an internal massage to assist with digestion. Bring more space between your knees to open up the hips.
  • This pose can always be taken in a class if you need a break. It’s a great asana to do before bed to calm the nervous system or as a good back stretch mid-day. Breathe deeply.

Tadasana (mountain pose):

  • Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, stack your knees and hips over the ankles.
  • Spread your toes and feel the four corners of your feet planted into the earth. Soften your knees with a slight bend so that you are not hyperextending the joints.
  • Center your hips and pelvis so that the belly or butt is not sticking out. Lengthen the spine and back, soften the shoulders and turn the palms forward.
  • Reach the crown (top) of the head towards the sky and gaze softly at an unmoving spot in front of you. Breathe deeply.

Savasana (corpse pose):

  • To relax the eye muscles, try to do this pose in a dark room, or place a scarf over your eyes. If your hair is tied, let it loose to relax the scalp and temples. If you wear glasses, take them off too.
  • Place a blanket on top of you or put on an extra layer to stay warm. Then, lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palms turned upwards. Rock your head gently and slowly from left to right making each movement smaller until it is centered with your nose to the sky.
  • Tuck your chin slightly so that the back of the neck is long. Turn your heels in towards each other and the toes out to the sides.
  • Bring lots of space between the legs, leaving the hips open. Bring space between your arms and your torso. Find stillness and softness.
  • Close the eyes and let go of your thoughts, to-do lists, and worries. Allow yourself to be here for 5-10 mins, enjoying being with your breath and your body.

The divine light in me honors the divine light in you,

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Alana Morgan Eberts

Alana Morgan Eberts currently lives, learns, and teaches in Vancouver. She is the Catering & Events Manager at Nuba, as well as a volunteer Crisis Intervention Counselor.

Learn more about Lani athttp://yogalana.strikingly.com/

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